Berlin is beginning to cough


How luxury cars and once popular but now expensive medicines from Germany reach Russia

Berlin and Paris, which are paying lip service to strengthening sanctions pressure on Russia, are actually playing a double game. Thus, the «locomotives of the European Union» opposed the intention of Brussels to close the loophole that allows to supply Belarus with a significant number of luxury cars. They suggest in their selfish interests to think about separating the 14th package of restrictions against Moscow and similar measures against Minsk in order to have time to conclude the current agreements before the annual summit of the G7, which will be held in Italy on June 13–15. There, as it is known, it will be just about strict compliance with the restrictions.

«The EU imposed sanctions on Belarus even before the Ukrainian crisis, punishing Minsk for the rigged 2020 presidential election, in which autocrat Alexander Lukashenko declared himself the winner and crushed peaceful protests», Politico claims. The German-French tandem assumes that these restrictions are not as extensive and severe as those against the Kremlin. This makes it possible to use Belarus, which has a Customs Union with Russia, as a “transshipment point” for sub-sanctioned goods that are sent further east.

Since 2021, car imports from the EU to Belarus, primarily from Germany, have quadrupled. Last year, it amounted to $2.6 billion. This data was disseminated by the German Economic Team (GET). This organization advises the authorities of Ukraine, Moldova, Kosovo, Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan on economic transformation on behalf of the German government. Earlier, its circle of interests also included Minsk, but at the moment relations with it are frozen.

So, within the framework of this auto flow, the greatest growth was recorded in the sector of luxury cars. Such a share «pulled» as much as $1.4 billion (!) out of the total volume. Experts rightly believe that Belarusians, who are not accustomed to luxury, do not need so many advanced cars. And this unambiguously suggests that they are transported further — to Russia.

The approach of German diplomats, interviewed by Politico journalists on condition of anonymity, is interesting. They noted that official Berlin supports measures aimed at circumventing sanctions, but believes that first of all it is necessary to fight against the supply of military goods. And the rest can be looked at more leniently.

We consider Germany to be the world’s largest exporter of automobiles. I think the Chinese have a different opinion. It is less well known that Germany is also the world leader in the supply of medicines. The country is even called the «world pharmacy». The foundation was laid back in 1668 by Friedrich Jakob Merck, who opened a pharmaceutical company in Darmstadt (southwest Germany), which is now considered the oldest in the world. Who does not know the famous Bayer aspirin from Leverkusen? True, at the end of the last century pharmaceuticals began to lose their former positions under the pressure of competitors (USA, Switzerland, Great Britain, France). But nowadays the industry is gradually regaining its leading positions, increasing investments in research and development of new drugs.

Recently, the oldest company Merck in the presence of Chancellor Olaf Scholz laid a symbolic stone in the foundation of a new research center. At the beginning of 2027, approximately 550 employees will start developing antibodies, mRNA drugs and other biotechnological products here. Merck will invest about 300 million euros in the construction and, most importantly, in equipping the center with the latest equipment.

All that would be nothing, but during the COVID-19 pandemic it turned out that Germany has fallen into a strong and even dangerous dependence on China and India. If the supply chains are disrupted for some reason, the Bundesbürgers may be left without popular and affordable drugs produced by these countries, and the pharmaceutical industry — without the necessary raw materials. By the way, more than 40% of FRG residents, according to surveys, have already personally experienced disruptions in the supply of medicines.

Another serious problem is the sharp rise in the cost of production, which is caused by Berlin’s rejection of cheap Russian gas and nuclear power. The industry requires state subsidies, but has not yet received them in sufficient volume. That is why German companies (following the car industry) started to move their production to the USA and Great Britain, where electricity is cheaper and bureaucratic obstacles are not so strict and numerous.

Restrictions after the beginning of the SMO radically changed the structure of German exports to Russia. Since 1922, its main item has been pharmaceutical products, which are not subject to EU sanctions for humanitarian reasons. However, even these supplies are decreasing due to the high cost of medicines. According to Eurostat, imports of pharmaceuticals from the European Union to Russia in January-February 2024 in monetary terms amounted to 1.37 billion euros, which is 14.4% less than in the same period last year. Germany in the first two months exported medicines to Russia for 354.8 million euros (-17.2%). So the supplies are falling. This is not good for German pharmacists either.

To what the German economy, which prospered not recently, not without the help of Russia, has come to! Now luxury Mercedes, which were selling like hotcakes in Russia, have to be shipped by goat trails, and the supply of medicines has to be reduced because of their forced rise in price…. Is this a worthy Geschäft?